Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Teen Girls LOVE Adverbs

*Warning: Rant Ahead*

I'm going to be very honest here—I'm tired of people knocking on Stephenie Meyer. If you're a writer, you've heard it, so I won't repeat what people say about her here. In fact, this goes for every big name writer, but I feel particularly protective over Stephenie because she's the YA Queen and that's my genre.

First off, I'm just going to put myself in her shoes for a second: I wrote a book—a book I loved with characters that were very close to my heart. I worked very hard on my book. I put my heart and soul into it. My hands shook the first time I gave it to a stranger to read. I was elated and humbled when an agent actually wanted to represent it! Even more shocked when a publisher wanted PUBLISH it! All my dreams had come true.

And people LOVED my book! MY book! I was so touched that people found something in my pages that they connected with. I couldn't have imagined this success! The bestseller list? A movie? Really?

But now things have changed. My own community—the writers—say I'm not good. They say my stories have no literary merit and that my prose is terrible. I'm the butt of every other joke. I have success, but it still hurts. I never said I was a literary writer...I had an idea for a story...and I wrote the story I loved.

Stephenie Meyer is a person, guys. And more than that—she's a writer. Her journey, though it may have been faster than some, is our journey. Remember all those insecurities you feel as a writer? (Is this good enough? Will people like me? Will people love my story? My characters?)

I'm going to use the powers of empathy to say that maybe Meyer feels those very same things. I personally have seen some triumphs (still geeking out that I have a for reals agent), but deep down inside I'm terrified for the moment that someone will call me a hack. Because the little doubt monster in my head says that all the time, and my greatest fear is that it's 100% true.

Shouldn't we, as writers, treat our own with more kindness and respect?

Because secondly, Stephenie Meyer's success is good for all of us. Dude, people are READING because of her. More than that, TEENS are reading because of her. In a world where there are dozens of entertainment outlets at our bored fingertips, we should be grateful to any writer who can convince a person to put down the blackberry and pick up a 500-page book.

And when they finish her epic series—a lot of the times they want to read more from other authors! Holy Hannah! People wanting to read more is never a bad thing. There is a good chance, if you're a YA writer with a published book, that Stephanie got that new fan of yours into the bookstore in the first place.

Not only that, but one could argue that Stephenie put YA on the map. Yes, JK Rowling was there too, but Harry Potter technically started as MG and it didn't have that certain brand of "grit" until the later books. And yes, there were many big authors in YA before Stephenie, but she brought the genre into mainstream entertainment. Uh, that's kind of a big deal, and as a YA writer I'm grateful that people are taking notice of how great YA is now.

Thirdly, I don't care how "bad" her writing is—you know you stayed up until three in the morning to finish all her books. I totally did. You cannot deny their addictive quality, and that, whether you like it or not, takes TALENT to write. How many of you can write a book that readers can't put down? That's the goal, isn't it?

Something about her writing works, and I think we'd all do better to learn from Stephenie rather than make fun of her. I loved the post Megan Rebekah did a while ago: How To Mimic Twilight's Success. So. True.

Because you may not personally like adverbs—but teen girls LOVE adverbs. Like Megan said, when a teen girl says, "Tell me everything," they totally, completely mean it. Girls LOVE details. They want to know exactly how a boy looked at you. They want to analyze every single word and decode the mystery as to why that boy is acting like that. They want to recreate the moment over and over again in their minds—and they never get bored of it. They want forever with a guy (seriously, we're programmed like that from the start). And if that guy is hot, dangerous, and willing to sacrifice everything for them—even better.

Guys, Stephenie wrote the perfect book for her audience. And you can knock it all you want, but I admire her. I admire her ability to capture exactly what a lot of girls feel and want. You might be able to write prose so beautiful it makes angels cry, but what does that matter if you can't grasp an audience and keep them turning pages? Not much, that's for sure.

So there, it's out in the open—I like Stephenie Meyer and I'm not afraid to say it. The Twilight Series is wildly addicting and compelling, and I will be seeing New Moon in theaters. And, gasp, I even liked Breaking Dawn. Was everything perfect? Of course not. But I'm not a perfect writer either and I would hate for people to throw out my whole idea just because I was human.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Yes, Carrie Harris ROCKS!

I keep saying I have some seriously awesome friends—and I'm sure you believe me—but I just have to make sure you really know how cool they are.

Carrie Harris is getting PUBLISHED!!!! Join the zombie conga line! (But don't dance too fast or you'll knock them all over, then it'd be zombie dominoes, hehe.)

The brilliant Wendy Loggia over at Delacorte has added No Pain, No Brain to her repertoire of awesomeness (*cough* Libba Bray, anyone?).

I've known Carrie for, oh, nine or so months now? And she is the most wonderful, zany person out there. I mean, I knew we were destined to be friends when I saw she was the leader of The Semi-Secret Order of the Blog Ninja. I had to have that award, so I sent her one of my all time favorite ninja videos. The rest is history.

Seriously, Carrie is my example of perseverance. You would never know how long her journey has been because she takes everything with a refreshing dose of humor. Her blog makes me laugh everyday, and those are laughs I've needed. So thank you, Carrie, for your friendship, example, and comedic genius. You deserve this SO. MUCH. You better be dancing still.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Day of Thanks

Reminder: My contest ends tonight at 7! If you want a chance to have an original drawing from me, hurry up.

Yesterday I announced that I now have an agent! (Wow, it's still true!) And the post got so long I decided that I would save all the thank yous for today. Feel free to picture me in a fancy orange dress holding the "I Have an Agent!" award, standing on stage in shock as I try to figure out how many people I can thank before they cue the music.


1. Mom! I don't want to brag, but I have one of those awesome moms who believes her kids can do anything in the world. No, she doesn't just say it because she's supposed to. She honestly believes it. She taught me to reach for my dreams.

2. Nicco! My husband rocks. When I'm rough drafting, he doesn't whine about my zombie-like state, making dinner himself, or taking care of kids. He begs me for the next chapter, and the next. I'd be nowhere without that constant and enthusiastic support.

3. Kiersten and Renee! My first two guinea pigs, the poor souls who slogged through my early work. You dear, dear friends. I love you both like sisters.

4. Of course, Agent Nathan! Relax, I'm a Ninja would still be cool, but not as cool without your incredible advice. I love my book more than ever, which is weird since I was sure I'd be sick of it by now.

5. All my blogging friends! Kasie, Sara, Michelle, Candice, Lois, Jenn, Steph, Carrie, Adam, Ben, Whirl, Janey, Heather, Cindy, Jessie, and on and on. Your support and comments always make me feel special, especially through all those times when I seriously wondered why the heck I was doing this.

*Music slowly grows louder.*

Ah, crap. Um, oh! The rest of my amazing family! And my kids for napping so I can write! And PBS for educational television that makes me feel less guilty when my kids watch. And everyone else I missed!

*Man nudges me. Music is deafening.*

And Diet Mountain Dew Code Red for keeping me awake to write!

Okay, okay, I better stop. But really, I'm so grateful to all the people who have helped me along the way. Some people say that writing is a solitary venture, but for me it's not. It was only when I sought out other people's help and friendship that I grew as a writer. So thank you, everyone, for being there for me.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Whoa, Are Those Pigs Flying?

I've imagined writing this post way more than I should admit. Sometimes it was filled with excited pictures of me jumping up and down clad in all orange clothing. Sometimes it was in all caps with lots of squee's and eeeek's. Pretty much all the time I was giggling like crazy as I wrote it. Well, that one's still true (teehee).

I mean, that's what you're supposed to do when you finally get an agent, right? Wait, I didn't mention that yet? Oh, yeah—maybe I should tell you. I have an agent now! And his name is Nathan Bransford.

(I'll give you a second to reread that, because I'm sure you're in just as much shock as I am. No—for reals—you are totally reading that right.)

So, um, Nathan's my agent! Me. Like, the girl who writes about ninjas and wizards and cyborgs (Not at the same time! Though that would be cool...). I'm currently going between that squealing giddy laughter I mentioned and a kind of quiet awe.

Dude, I have an agent. (Warning: I'll be saying that a lot, mostly to keep reminding myself it's true.)

If you didn't know, I've been querying for a while. I try not to think about how long it's been. Funnily enough, I sent my very first query to Nathan at the end of October 2007. Yup, I got rejected the next day and it was well deserved. I was nowhere near ready, and poor First Book was quickly abandoned. At least I realized that I had much work to do.

So I wrote another book. And another. I queried both of those projects too (both of which Nathan also rejected, hehe. [Also completely deserved]). I also wrote a lot more books while querying that never made it to agent inboxes. Do I have to say the number? Okay, okay—Relax, I'm a Ninja was my 8th novel.

Yeah, my 8th novel. I'm definitely persistent.

It was just a baby of an idea when I decided to write the first paragraph for Nathan's contest. I didn't expect anyone to take interest—it was just a fun idea about a nerd boy who was actually a ninja in hiding. But, well, I won! And that was awesome mostly because I could get a real critique from a real agent. I never dreamed that he would become my agent.

Seriously, I needed a critique. I knew there was something wrong with my writing. I was trying desperately to fix it, but I just couldn't see it. I'd had several agents tell me my prose was messy, which was kind of helpful, but I didn't know what, exactly, made it messy.

So like a total dork I sent my 2nd draft material to Nathan for my partial critique. I figured I could use his advice to revise the whole manuscript—I didn't expect him to request the full instead. And stupid me sent it, knowing I really needed to revise. (Note: Don't be stupid like me. Luck isn't always there for you.) Let's just say I finally got my critique; it was brilliant; and I was very, very lucky he offered to take a look after I'd properly revised.

To make a long story short(er). I did a lot of revising—months worth. And it was the BEST experience ever. I am extremely grateful for how much I've learned through these revisions. I've learned how to truly craft a book, how hard I can actually push myself, and that good things come to those who don't ever give up.

Perhaps that's why I'm not filling this post with screams and silly pictures, as tempting as it may be. The celebration and joy goes so deep down to my soul I want to express it, uh, more maturely right now.

I did it. Oh my goodness, I have an agent! It was so much work—more than I ever imagined—but I made my dream come true. And it was completely worth it! I'm so grateful that Nathan took a chance on me, that he saw something there in all that mess of my writing. It is quite fitting that the first agent I queried would ultimately be the last one I queried. It's like a life chiasmus.

I can't wait for all the work following this step. I'm sure it won't be anything like I imagine, but great and life-changing all the same. Bring it on.

Oh, fine, one more time: I have an agent! (*Squee*)